Invisible Children organization raises awareness about Joseph Kony

On March 5, the organization Invisible Children (IC) posted a video that became a viral phenomenon.  IC created a campaign called Kony 2012 to raise awareness about the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda: Joseph Kony.

According to the New York Times, “the Lord’s Resistance Army is a notorious renegade group in central Africa that have murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of people. It is led by Joseph Kony, a self-proclaimed prophet known for ordering massacres, mutilating opponents and kidnapping countless children – turning girls into sex slaves and boys into prepubescent killers.”

According to the Sudan Human Security Baseline Assessment Small Arms Survey, “the LRA came to life as a movement to address the Ugandan government’s chronic neglect and marginalization of northerners.”

It was founded in response to the National Resistance Army under President Museveni, who is president of the country today. Museveni came to power in Uganda in 1986.

IC comes into play with Jason Russell, the founder of the organization, who experienced firsthand the conflicts in Uganda.  According to The Huffington Post, Russell spent years in Africa trying to stop Kony.  He built schools and other facilities for civilians in the area with donated money.

Social studies teacher Jacob Hollin thinks that service is the best way to truly experience what it is like to live in other countries.  “Being willing to go on a service or mission trip to makes it real and helps people realize that these are real people, these are real numbers, not just pictures or videos.  That provides you with a medium to do something,” he said.

Russell, a filmmaker, created the campaign to raise awareness about Kony and his crimes.  According to their video, the goal is to “make Joseph Kony a household name.  Not to celebrate him, but to bring his crimes to light.”

Junior Bryan Doherty first heard about IC “like everybody else, on Facebook,” but he took the video’s claims with a grain of salt.  “I thought it was a lot of propaganda.  In class discussions [about the video] I was clearly the minority.  I thought what the video calls for was not in America’s best interest.  Sending military over is how Vietnam started, and I don’t think it would be economically smart,” Doherty said.

Religion teacher Christopher Yeung is skeptical of the conflict portrayed in the video.  “The main difficulty I see with the Kony 2012 campaign is that the solution seems too simplistic: pressure the American government to go and arrest Kony. Kony’s group is just one piece of a complicated power struggle going on in the whole region,” he said.

“It is a complicated situation I can’t even begin to understand.  Perhaps our federal government does have the necessary information to make the right judgment, but our history of intervening in other civil wars has not demonstrated this to generally be the case,” Yeung said.

Yeung believes that aid should be given to troubled countries, but he does not think the Kony 2012 campaign is the best way to do so.  “First, the most important thing Christians can do is pray. We have to pray for an end to sin, beginning in our own hearts, for any true lasting peace to occur anywhere and everywhere. Second is to listen and understand.  Do as much as you can to learn more about the situation and the issues involved,” he said.

Sophomore Kelly Stifler is a fan of the Kony 2012 campaign and IC and believes that they’ll be helpful in solving conflicts.  “I like how they’re not all about giving money, they’re about awareness too.  To help, there’s always the typical adopt a child programs, and you can always donate to charities that you trust, like Invisible Children,” she said.

Yeung suggests that it would be beneficial to put one’s time and money into the Catholic Relief Services in order to assist those in countries like Uganda.  “The way I would make a financial contribution to fight Kony and others like him would be to support Catholic Relief Services’ [CRS] efforts in Uganda,” he said.

“CRS has been in Uganda for over 40 years fighting the roots of poverty and injustice: the main issues that started the conflict in the first place.  They have front line experience, local infrastructure, are efficient with the use of their monetary contributions, and I am confident that they operate from a position of authentic Christian social justice,” Yeung explained.

Hollin also believes all people have a responsibility to stop the world’s injustices.  “As a citizen of the world there is a certain sense of responsibility.  You have to recognize that none of us would want to see the crime and carnage right in front of us.  Then you figure out what the difference you can do is.  Such magnanimous crimes must be brought to attention,” he said.

Brianna Glase is a Managing Editor for The Patriot and